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Composer Godfrey (Bohumir) Tomanek was born October 20, 1925 in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of six, he and his two sisters along with their parents, returned to the “old country,” to Northeastern Moravia in Czechoslovakia. It was Depression time in the United States.
 
The family lived in the Beskydy Mountains, in a region called Valašsko (Wallachia). Slovakia was within walking distance. Because of this geographical proximity, the people of Valašsko and western Slovakia had many things in common: —mountains, dialects, songs, folk art, religious customs, schooling. Living in this rich environment had a profound influence on Godfrey Tomanek, the musician.
 
The folk songs were pure and sincere. Christmas trees were decorated with only home-made products. There were no piles of presents under the tree, but plenty of carols and singing, both in the churches and at home. Creches, some of them masterpieces of folk art, were displayed in almost every family, from Christmas Eve to February 2, the Feast of the Purification of Mary. That was the end of the season of the Nativity.
 
When twelve years old, Godfrey Tomanek went to Prague (Praha) for his studies,— first to the Academic Gymnasium for classical languages, and after World War II, to the State Conservatory of Music in the organ and church music departments. His first organist position was at the Church of St. Thomas in Mala Strana (Lesser Town, Prague) when he was sixteen years of age.
 
Due to the political upheavals, Tomanek had to return to the USA in 1949. Godfrey was a noted conductor, composer, organist, teacher, and piano technician. Upon his return to the U.S., he was organist/music director at St. Mel’s in Chicago (1949-1952), St. Mary’s in Michigan City, Indiana (1952-1959), St. Patrick Cathedral in Norwich (1959-1972), St. Nicholas Russian Orthodox in Norwich (1972-1975), Niantic Community Church in Niantic (1975-1982), Naval Submarine Base Chapels in Groton (1982-1987), Christ the King in Old Lyme (1987-1991), First Congregational in Westbrook (1991-1996), and he served as interim organist in various churches from 1996-2009. Godfrey also taught piano, organ, improvisation, and theory. He was an expert in Gregorian chant and had extensive experience with Latin liturgical music. He was a registered piano technician with the Piano Technicians Guild and was sole proprietor of G. T. Piano Service from 1972-1992. He was staff piano technician at Connecticut College and University of Connecticut. He was a lifetime member of the American Guild of Organists and served as dean of the local chapter for several years. He lived in Conneticut having pursued a lifetime of service to the church as an organist-choir director besides being a piano technician. He remained an active composer in his retirement years.
 
Godfrey was well known as an inspiring musician. He led many choirs in his career, including the Cecilia Chorus which was founded in 1961 in Norwich, and has performed over 500 concerts in churches in Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Washington, D.C. He developed the Ars Musica Concert Series in Norwich, which featured performances in St. Patrick Cathedral with many professional local and international musicians. He was a guest conductor for festivals and other occasions, ran workshops, and gave lectures on various musical topics. He gave recitals in Prague, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Boston, Hartford, Norwich, Pardubice (Czech Republic), Bethlehem (Pensylvania), and New London. He was a champion of Czech organ music and frequently included improvisation on his programs. He has composed, arranged, and edited over 80 works for various combinations of instruments and voices. His works have been published by WLSM, GIA, API, WLP, Augsburg, and Kennedy. Many of his compositions reflect his strong choral, liturgical, and organ roots. His works are also featured on two recordings. 
 
In September 2007, Godfrey received an Apostolic Blessing from Pope Benedict XVI for his CD of the Latin hymn, Te Deum, one of his most important compositions.
 
Godfrey Anton (Bohumir Antonin) Tomanek, 89, passed away in his home in Old Lyme, on Saturday, July 25, 2015.

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